Yesterday marked the conclusion of the first full week of trials over the Dover, PA School Board?s decision to include intelligent design in the science curriculum. This week was devoted to the plaintiffs? witnesses. Lawyers questioned Drs. Kenneth Miller, a Brown University cell and molecular biologist, Robert Pennock, professor of science and philosophy at Michigan State, and Jack Haught, professor of theology at Georgetown University. The professors ? presumably picked from hundreds of scientists who could reasonably explain the tenets of scientific investigation, the nature of fact and theory, and reasons that intelligent design doesn?t fit any of these frameworks ? appear to have performed admirably. Here we had an honest-to ? well ? we had a real science-on-trial type case. Although a cute highlight, brilliantly teased out by columnist Mike Argento, appeared to have dipped a fair stretch down the rabbit hole. Any reasonable person should notice the straw...

But there?s also a he-said-she-said element that really would be a bore if it weren?t so important that the facts come out. Several of the parent-plaintiffs also testified this week, painting a picture of former Dover School Board member Bill Buckingham as a bible-thumping bully. Among the key quotes that reportedly illustrate his even keeled approach to keeping church and state separate at school board meetings are: ?2000 years ago someone died on a cross. Can?t somebody stand up for Him??

Buckingham called a college student in favor of teaching evolution a perfect example of a Dover Area High graduate who went off to college and became ?brainwashed.? Parent Jeff Brown testified that Buckingham and crony Alan Bonsell ganged up on the kid. Bonsell is the same guy that reportedly told Brown?s wife, Casey, that she was going to hell after she resigned from the school board in protest of the ID inclusion. Although Buckingham has been considered the ID ringleader in the months approaching the trial, much of the testimony revealed that Bonsell had been grinding a creationism axe long before changes were considered. Testimonies state that Bonsell called for 50-50 treatement of creationism and evolution at a school board retreat in the spring of 2003. His other top priority ? prayer. Bonsell has said there is no link between his creationism remarks and mention of intelligent design. And both he and Buckingham deny making their more inflammatory remarks.

So, potentially two arguments could be used to decide this case: The merits of real science versus veiled theology inherent in Intelligent Design, or whether the Dover school board?s actual intention in including ID was to bring religion into the classroom in direct violation of the First Amendment?s separation of church and state. If plaintiffs win on the latter argument, this case might not usurp the legitimacy of ID in the larger sense. Look for more on upcoming trial dates: Oct. 5, 6, 12, 14, 17 through 21, 24, 27; Nov. 2 through 4. You know I will.

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?